Complementary medicine has become more and more popular among the general public due to concerns about the possible side effects associated with taking many drugs and other conventional interventions. The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine writes that about 40 percent of Americans use health care approaches which are developed outside of mainstream Western, or conventional, medicine for specific conditions or overall well-being. Science Daily reported on Oct. 9, 2013, "Barriers to Implementing Complementary Medicine Into MD Residency."
"Complementary” generally refers to using a non-mainstream approach together with conventional medicine, and "alternative” refers to using a non-mainstream approach in place of conventional medicine. The most significant barriers to incorporating complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) and integrative medicine (IM) training into family medicine residency curricula and training programs has been found to be lack of time and a paucity of trained faculty, by investigators at Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM). The study results have been published online in Explore: The Journal of Science and Healing.
Paula Gardiner, MD, MPH, assistant professor of family medicine at BUSM, has said, "This is a part of medicine that has significant impact on patient care." Gardiner feels it is important to minimize barriers to implementing CAM/IM curricula in order to address these competencies while promoting a larger focus on patient centered care. A majority of family medicine residency program directors have said they feel CAM and IM were an important part of resident training.
However, a majority of directors also did not have any specific learning goals dealing with CAM and IM in their residency programs. At this time it appears most knowledge dealing with complementary medicine is self learned by highly motivated physicians who have developed an acute awareness of the value of this form of health care.